It is not every day that you find women soaring in business and creating jobs for others.
But 37-year-old Annie Kachepa-Phiri has defied the odds to become a successful businesswoman, employing over 50 people in various disciplines.
On top of that, she creates part time employment for approximately 1 000 others— impacting many lives in the process.
Born on May 26 1986, the entrepreneur began her journey as a court clerk at Limdadzi’s Mkukula Magistrates’ Court in 2009 while pursuing her accounting diploma at the Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA).
She then moved to Lilongwe Magistrates’ Court where she later transitioned to the accounts department and dedicated nine years there.
Annie took her first step into the business world in 2012, initially focusing on agriculture, while still balancing her job in the civil service.
“Over time, I was overwhelmed with passion for entrepreneurship and realised that my true calling was in the business world. Subsequently, in 2019, I made a bold decision to leave my secure government job and fully commit to my entrepreneurial aspirations,” she explains.
This marked the birth of Langa Investments, a growing conglomerate dedicated to addressing various facets of Malawi’s socio-economic needs.
The enterprise has diversified its portfolio to include Langa Transport and Lama Construction.
“Our goal is to provide top-of-the-range solutions and make a meaningful impact in the communities we serve. Through these ventures, I’ve had the privilege of creating employment opportunities and contributing to the growth of our economy,” she says.
Under Langa Agro— the biggest business portfolio by work, volume and turnover, they are mainly into maize and rice production under both rain-fed and irrigation farming.
The initiative works with cooperatives, collaborates with local communities and engages them in activities that benefit from a blend of modern agricultural activities.
“We offer agro-dealership services which include the provision of inputs to farmers in Kasungu, Dowa and Ntchisi. We go beyond job creation for communities by also unlocking markets—linking local farmers, clubs and cooperatives with international markets,” says the former court clerk.
Langa Transport offers customers a surreal experience through their fleet of 4×4 vehicles that are suitable for Malawi’s mostly rough roads.
Furthermore, convinced by strength of partnerships, the construction business is a partnership operating as Lama Construction, providing services in construction and civil works.
Annie’s ambitions are rooted in the belief that businesses are akin to nurturing babies on a growth trajectory.
To bring these dreams to fruition, the entrepreneur has set her sights on several key aspirations.
Firstly, she is driven to expand the scale of the agricultural activities.
“Currently, we cultivate across 2 000 acres and I have a vision of increasing this to 3 000 acres by 2028. This expansion represents, not just growth in size, but a commitment to contributing more significantly to the agricultural sector.
“Moreover, I am resolute in my pursuit of value addition. I understand that simply producing crops such as maize and rice is no longer sufficient. To truly prosper, my businesses must venture into processing and associated endeavours—creating products that add value and cater to evolving market demands,” she says.
Apart from that, the second born of three children in her family, dreams about venturing into the world of real estate.
“My vision encompasses the ownership and management of properties in Malawi’s bustling urban centers, an exciting prospect that promises both diversification and lasting prosperity.
“As I work tirelessly towards these aspirations, I am fully aware of the need for patience, guided by the strategic plan that outlines a step-by-step journey towards realising these ambitions,” she says.
Where women and youth empowerment is concerned, Annie is passionate about witnessing a significant transformation of these two groups of people in the country.
“While it’s undeniable that many successful businesses in Malawi are currently owned and run by men, there’s no inherent issue with that. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to strive for a more balanced landscape. Women and the youth should not perpetually play catch-up; they should have equal opportunities to lead in the realm of business.
“I hope to witness a surge in corporate institutions pioneering business investments tailored for women and the youth. It’s entirely feasible for investors to create intentional programmes that nurture and support these demographics, enabling them to take their rightful place in the entrepreneurial world,” she says.
Annie is confident that this shift towards inclusivity and empowerment will not only foster economic growth, but also promote social equity and progress for the nation.
In her counsel to women and girls, the entrepreneur warns that if they remain trapped in the comfort zones, hoarding their savings and avoiding risks, they will never realise their full potential.
“I understand that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship, but I’ve witnessed young women who could excel in business rather than the routine of a monthly paycheck. If you have a passion for entrepreneurship, it’s time to awaken your ambitions, chase your dreams and conquer the world.
“As young women, we are more than capable of achieving great things; don’t let fear or complacency hold you back. Embrace the unknown and let your potential shine,” she says.
Ironically, the biggest challenge she faced growing up was her fear of taking risks in life.
Annie explains that she was always contented with what she had and was hesitant to step out of her comfort zone to explore new opportunities.
However, her perspective took a significant turn when she learned about Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who transformed Dubai from a barren desert into the global superpower it is today.
She says: “His story of vision, determination and unwavering courage served as a source of inspiration that reshaped my outlook on life. I realised that I, too, could overcome my fears by believing in myself and my capabilities. This newfound confidence motivated me to take a bold step and quit my job, following my passion for entrepreneurship, eventually leading to the creation of Langa Investments.”
Annie was born at Mlambe Hospital in Blantyre.
“My elder sibling, Mphatso, occupies a significant place in my life as my best friend, confidant, partner and an unwavering support system. Our family is completed by Tadala, the youngest and only boy,” she explains.
Her late father came from Kalumbu Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Chadza in Lilongwe, while her mother’s roots trace back to Zomba, Malemia Village, T/A Malemia.
Their early years were predominantly spent in Lumbadzi, where her father worked as a telecommunication engineer at Kamuzu International Airport.
“It was a formative period of my life, filled with lasting memories,” she reminisces
She earned her Malawi School Certificate of Education at Macey William Girls Secondary School.
Despite facing challenges in securing admission into the University of Malawi, Annie persevered and enrolled at MCA where I pursued a diploma in Public Accountants Examination Council of Malawi now known as the Institute of Charted Accountants from 2006 to 2009.
Her commitment to education led her to complete her bachelor of accountancy with distinction.
Continuing on this path of academic excellence, Annie has a master’s in business administration with a first-class distinction by the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (Esami).
“I graduated in 2021 and was honoured as the best performer in my Esami Lilongwe Intake 38,” she says.
Beyond her academic pursuits, she has a deep passion for aviation and likes watching aviation documentaries
However, traveling, interior decorating and writing also hold special places in her heart, providing her with avenues to express her creativity and explore the world.